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What Are Printed Circuit Boards Used For

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Modern electronics have influenced our lives in more ways than one.

We rely on different gadgets and equipment for different purposes that could range from convenience within the home, to healthcare, security, transportation, food production, and processing, etc.   

Central to the functionality of these electronics are the printed circuit boards.

PCBs, as they are also known, are thin boards are made from an insulating material, usually coated with metal. They are the core connecting components of most electronics, providing the pathway by which electricity travels among the various components.

Uses of PCB in electronics

The invention of  printed circuit boards have made it easier for manufacturers to produce electronic circuits that can be contained easily on rugged, convenient, and yet compact boards. Add all of these to the cost-effectiveness of PCBs and you’ll see why they are everywhere and in everything these days.

The uses of PCB in electronics are broad, at best.  The different factors above have contributed to their prominent use in the modern electronics manufacturing industry.

Common applications of printed circuit boards

Below are a few of the diverse applications of printed circuit boards in the design and manufacturing of modern electronics.

Consumer electronics

You’ll find PCBs in smartphone and mobile devices, computers, entertainment systems such as TVs, Bluray players, game consoles, etc. They are also present in most other home appliances, such as microwaves, air conditioners, refrigerators, and almost every other modern electronic device.

The low cost of producing PCBs is a huge advantage considering the sheer volume of consumer electronics that get sold every other day.

This goes a long way into keeping product costs low and within the reach of many people. But then, PCB manufacturers are held to high industry standards and quality control measures since these boards are vital to the proper functioning of most of the electronics we use in our daily lives.

Medical devices

The PCBs used here are usually high-density interconnect PCBs.

These boards are often made from flexible base materials which makes them suitable for use as external or internal medical equipment. Because this is is a tightly regulated industry, the PCBs used in the production of medical and healthcare equipment are held to a higher standard and stricter quality control measures compared to their use in other areas. Applications of printed circuit boards in the healthcare industry include manufacturing of;

1. Health monitoring devices such as blood pressure monitors, heart rate monitors, blood glucose monitors, etc.

2. Internal medical devices such as heart pacemaker that are based on extremely tiny printed circuit boards.

3. Medical scanning equipment such as CT scanners, etc

4. Electronically-controlled medical control systems such as the devices used in the control of dispensation, flow rate, and fluid infusion, among others.

5. Other major and minor medical equipment and instruments such as microscopes, photometers, compressors, control system generators, etc

Lighting/LED

LED lighting is becoming more popular these days thanks to the low energy consumption and high light output. Integrating LED lighting with PCBs, however, offers even greater versatility and functionality.

With printed board circuits, LED is now being used as display indicators in the manufacturing of a variety of products in different industries. The use of PCBs in lighting span different areas that include;

1. Use of lightweight and durable aluminum PCBs in telecommunication lighting applications thanks to its improved heat transfer property.

2. The use of PCB-based aluminum LED in computer technology, most especially as displays and indicators.

3. Medical lighting equipment for a wide range of uses.

4. Outdoor and indoor lighting application of PCB-based LED for lighting our homes.

5. Use as signage and display components such as in storefronts, digital billboards, etc.

Auto manufacturing

In times past, electronic circuits used to be exclusive to windshield wipers and headlight switches for the most part. But modern cars now rely on electronic circuits to efficiently perform more of their functions.

As expected, PCBs are finding their way into this, leading to the improvement of most processes and functions in the modern automobile. More cars nowadays are leveraging the use of PCBs with high-frequency signals such as RF and millimeter-wave frequencies for sensors and more.

The uses of PCB in electronics in the automobile industry span a range of areas that include;

1. Surrounding monitor systems such as the full-perimeter monitor system, etc.

2. Car control systems such as the park assist system, fuel regulators, engine management system, etc

3. Vehicle navigation systems such as GPS systems, among others.

4. Car entertainment systems such as the car’s audio and video systems

All of these automobile systems and more are controlled by flexible PCB-based circuits designed to meet the reliability needs and withstand the strain and vibration environment typical of automobiles.

Aerospace industry

Just like the applications of printed circuit boards in the automobile industry, the aerospace industry also uses compact, flexible, and lightweight PCBs.

These boards are specially designed to withstand the strain of turbulence and vibration that are typical of air flights. This is expected, considering that components used in aerospace engineering have to be super reliable for maximum safety and proper functioning. These PCBs are therefore engineered to guarantee as much precision and reliability as needed to avoid dangerous technical issues

The uses of PCB in electronics in the aerospace industry span several areas such as in the design of the aircraft’s main monitoring equipment. These include pressure sensors, accelerometers, force sensors, microphones, etc. Many of these systems are important not just to the functioning of the aircraft while in flight but also for communication with ground control.  

Bottom Line

We can go on and on about how PCBs are used in the manufacturing of electronic devices and components. Aside from the few uses we’ve highlighted up here, printed circuit boards still have a diverse range of applications in the firearms, security, and marine industries. They are also widely used in the telecoms industry as well as other applications that would involve electronic components in one way or the other.

Printed circuit boards have made it much easier and cheaper to connect components. Considering their versatility and functionality, we can only expect that PCBs would continue to find their way into more areas of the global manufacturing industry.

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